Nanaimo passenger ferry project faces scrutiny

NANAIMO – Proponents continue to seek investment in transportation link from Nanaimo to Vancouver.

As Island Ferries continues to search for investors, Nanaimo city council is asking how long it continues to hold faith in the group, according to Mayor Bill McKay.

Island Ferries, which hopes to start a $63-million passenger service between downtown Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver, did not secure a $14-million New Building Canada Fund grant before the election was called this August and the province does not see the application as a priority, the mayor reports.

Island Ferries signed a lease with the City of Nanaimo last year to operate a new service from the south industrial waterfront and has maintained it will be ready for startup six months from financial close.

It’s been looking for final investment since October 2013 and applied for federal funding last year with sponsorship from the City of Nanaimo.

Council is now asking how long it continues to hold faith in this group and if it should actively go looking for another potential ferry operator, said McKay, who believes councillors need to have a discussion about the project sooner rather than later.

“How long do you wait? And do you … continue to have faith in this group, which I do,” he said. “I’ll be looking to council for further direction.”

Representatives from Island Ferries did not respond to requests for an interview.

“These folks have been working on their project for about nine years now and I’ll tell ya, the level of tenacity I see with this group is quite astounding,” McKay said. “They’re not giving up.”

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